April 11 : Elstead URC Church Micro – and more on Church Micros

Hello, Mrs Hg137 here again.

We were in Elstead, a pretty, pleasant, and prosperous village in the Wey valley in Surrey, on a Monday evening, ready for Mr Hg137 to give a talk on the South Downs Way to a local club. Handily, the venue had its own geocache – Church Micro 7006…Elstead – URC – so we strolled over the road, made the find, and still had loads of time to set up for the presentation … which went down very well indeed.

Elstead URC

Elstead URC

But what are Church Micros (CMs)? That’s a question once asked of us by another cacher. We didn’t have a ready answer at the time. But here are some facts, figures and observations on Church Micros:

• It is the largest geocache series anywhere in the world. On 25th April 2016 there were 9,634 published Church Micros, of which 8,407 were active, 100 disabled and 1,127 archived. They were placed by 1,782 different cachers.

• Top Church Micro finders are Woking Wonders, who have found over 5,000 Church Micros so far. We talked to them at a cacher’s meet a while ago, and they said they were now having to travel as far away as 150 miles from home to find new Church Micros. It’s probably even further by now.

• We have found 38 Church Micros.

• There are awards, which can be displayed on your geocaching profile page, your blog, or elsewhere, which show how many Church Micros you have found. We are currently a Deacon (25-49 finds). Woking Wonders have been elevated to Saint (5000+ finds).

• Church Micro Day is on 7th November, the anniversary of the placing of the first Church Micro in 2007.

• Number 1 in the series is at Earlswood, near Redhill in Surrey.

• ‘Notable’ numbers often have notable churches to go with them – e.g. Church Micro 3000 is St Paul’s Cathedral, Church Micro 4000 is Westminster Abbey, Church Micro 8000 is Fountains Abbey, and Church Micro 9000 is Leicester Cathedral.

• But Church Micro 666 isn’t located close to any church. The cache container IS a church (a model, or so we’ve read, as we haven’t found it … yet …) Appropriately, it is located near the Devil’s Dyke in Sussex.

• Many are multicaches – typically, a look at the church notice board is needed, then the cache coordinates can be derived on the numbers to be found there – we were rumbled, once, by a zealous churchwarden while doing this!

• Most are small, as the name ‘micro’ would suggest, often 35mm film canister size. But not all. The Church Micro in Sandhurst is very large indeed, and was filled with all sorts of interesting things when we visited it during Leap Year weekend a couple of months ago. But the (gone missing) cache it replaced was not at all large.

• Some of our favourites are associated with old, small, and rarely used churches at: Imber (number 3210, in Wiltshire), Inglesham (802, in Gloucestershire), Boveney (6300, next to the Thames in Berkshire) and Wiggonholt (4507, in Sussex).

• Others have interesting people buried in the churchyard: Binstead (number 853, Field Marshal Montgomery), Nuffield (3723, David Frost), and Pirbright (938, with a memorial to Henry Morton Stanley, finder of David Livingstone). Or else they have interesting customs associated with them: Cheriton (number 1879, in Hampshire, where a ‘dole’ is given out to deserving parishioners).

• The Church Micro website can be found at http://www.15ddv.me.uk/geo/cm/index.html

Church Micros are a good way to find out about the history of an area and its people. And – a very important plus point – there is often a seat in the churchyard where rest and refreshment can be taken!


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